IRVINE — On the opening day of an Estill County murder trial, a prosecution witness described her terror as she watched her friend die after a shooting.
Bruce Hartley, 49, is charged with murder in the Jan. 5, 2008, shooting death of Angel Riddell, 25.
Monday's primary witness was Brenda Davenport, 35, who had driven Riddell to Hartley's home in eastern Estill County. Both women were drug users, as was Hartley, but Davenport testified that she and Riddell had gone to Hartley's home "to pick up some money."
Davenport testified that Riddell went into Hartley's house, then the two came out onto his porch a short time later. Riddell returned to the van where Davenport waited and said Hartley had accused Riddell of stealing money. Davenport said she told her friend to return the money, and Riddell went back to Hartley and did so.
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But when Riddell returned to the van a second time, Riddell said Hartley was still accusing her of stealing money.
At that point, Hartley began shooting into the van "three or four" times, striking Riddell, Davenport testified. When Davenport drove off, Hartley and another man, Phillip Abney, followed them in a pickup that Abney drove.
Meanwhile, blood was coming out of Riddell's nose and mouth. "She said she didn't want to die," Davenport testified. Those were Riddell's last words.
Moments later, Davenport stopped because she was almost out of gas and didn't think she could outrun Abney and Hartley. "I was just so scared, I didn't know what to do," Davenport testified.
She told Abney that Riddell had been shot, and walked back to the truck where Hartley sat in the passenger seat and told him that Riddell was dying.
"He said he didn't care. He wanted his f-----g money," Davenport told police.
Davenport said she found $40 — two $20 bills — beneath Riddell's bra strap and gave the money to Abney, who then said she could go. Under cross-examination, Davenport denied that she and Riddell had planned to rob Hartley.
In his opening statement, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Stiles told the jury that Hartley "had the intent and the ability to hit the target he was aiming at."
But defense attorney Charles Kelly Kilgore said Hartley "did not intend for her to die. He did not intend to shoot her" but to shoot out the van's tires.
Abney, who was charged with hindering prosecution/apprehension, died July 11. Stiles said in his opening statement that Abney's death was from natural causes and that foul play was not suspected.
The trial continues Tuesday with Estill Circuit Judge Thomas P. Jones presiding.